On Nov 1st the Washington State cannabis tracking infrastructure operated by the WSLCB went offline, rather abruptly.  The WSLCB had issued a contingency plan the week before, however the plan was rough and kept changing day over day with work-arounds and odd modifications to the status-quo.  BioTrackTHC’s contact with the WSLCB had terminated on Oct 31st and the replacement system was not operational (estimated delivery date is Jan 2, 2018).

This outage affects roughly 1600 businesses, growers, processors and retailers.  A key piece of software that all these business use, daily, is now gone.  Additionally there are at least a dozen other software providers (like WeedTraQR) that sit on-top of this infrastructure to service some of these licensed cannabis businesses.  Since Jan 2104 we’ve all been dependent on this core system.  Not just for regulatory compliance but also for data-exchange between these businesses.

All of the cannabis product is tracked, using unique identifiers generated by the central system.  Attributes of the material are tied to this identifier, such as strain, weight, type of material and other business-critical data.  When material is sent from one business to another, this core electronic system would effect this transfer.  It was to ensure accuracy and prevent data-entry mistakes.  There are many identifiers moving around, each with many attributes.  So even a simple transfer can have 100s of data-points to cross-check, enter and verify.  That work is tedious and error-prone.

With only days until the system was going to be offline, panic was setting in.  Suddenly people realized that tedious data-entry is an expensive proposition.  The software providers didn’t have a contingency plan to integrate themselves to each other, without the core system the entire industry could slow-down.

Near the last minute, BioTrackTHC decided (quite generously) to host a replica system for this interim period, outside of the LCB contract.  Without this system hundreds of businesses, thousands of employees would have had a huge labor burden when selling their materials through the supply chain.  That increased labor burden would have cost everyone money, it could have forced prices up (in the short term) or worse it could have squeezed some businesses beyond the breaking point.

All of us third-party software providers were able to get connected to this system with relative ease.  The BioTrackTHC team even produced additional code to make the migration easier and to facilitate registration on their side-line system.  During that first week there was a lot of support to be done – from all software providers.  BioTrackTHC was responsive, worked through all the technical “blips” that are to be expected in what was basically an emergency system migration from 1600 businesses and a dozen software providers.  Now, Washington cannabis businesses are in their second week of this contingency “plan” and things are running smoothly.

Readers know that when it came to BioTrackTHC I used to say “fuck those guys”.

Over time things change, BioTrackTHC is much improved from 2014 and now I say “fuck, those guys saved the day“.

Cheers to the BioTrackTHC team: Patrick, TJ, Dan, et al.  Hip Hip Hooray.